The college basketball season may have just ended, but that doesn’t stop media members and fans from looking forward to next season. No sir. At this point in the year, it’s anyone’s guess as to how teams will shape-up because any number of future altering events could occur. A prized recruit could be entering the picture, a current player might become ineligible, or a serious injury may unfortunately take place, drastically altering everyone’s predictions. While those events almost always occur, some out there see no problem in rating teams for the approaching year. Dan Hanner of RealGM.com is one of those people and he has recently released his top-25 for the 2013-14 season.
If you’re unfamiliar with Hanner and his work, allow me to fill you in. In the past, he wrote for YetAnotherBasketballBlog.com and Basketball Prospectus where he specialized in the numbers behind the game. In recent years, he has become a more popular name within the advanced statistic movement because of his line-up based rating system for college basketball. His model is based upon numerous variables like returning players, recruiting class, strength of schedule, and transfers among other factors. After crunching the massive amount of data, he predicts a team’s strength using a rating system identical to Ken Pomeroy’s Pythagorean method. If you’re unaware of what Pythagorean ratings are, fret not, it’s basically a fancy way of measuring scoring margin with tempo removed. Now that Hanner has run the numbers with the most updated rosters, he has released his top-25 which sees Kentucky atop the list. Michigan State, Louisville, Florida, and Arizona round out the top five. The entire top-25 can be found by following this link.
All things considered, it’s a very solid list as it matches the eye test in just about every way, especially considering Kentucky’s offense. According to the model, the Cats are predicted to have the best offense among the top-25 by a mind numbing 6.2 points. However, there are a few slight criticisms. In a conversation with Hanner on Twitter, I inquired about Kentucky’s potential growth with Wiggins and he claimed the increase would only be slight as his presence would knock another top rated player out of the line-up. An agreeable point, but if Wiggins is, in fact, what the scouts claim, his impact should be greater. My other criticism would be that Kentucky is rated 20th in defense among the top-25. The Cats will almost assuredly have a stronger defense than the model predicts as, historically, Calipari gets his teams to play elite level defense in a short period of time. Also, unlike last season, Kentucky will have long and hyper-athletic wings defending the perimeter with an elite post presence backing them up. I doubt we’ll take the top spot, but we should be stronger than 20th. Regardless of slight criticisms, it’s a very reasonable expectation of what next year “should” be.
If you’re interested in learning about the methodology behind Hanner’s system, here’s an explanation of what goes into his consideration. It’s a lengthy read, but greatly informative.